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#1 of 14 Old 12-03-2011, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is 4 and since he was a baby I've been considering home educating and researching it on and off. I came across unschooling ideas on  MDC and that really resonates with me and think I'd go in that direction... DS has attended preschool 15 hours a week since January, mainly b/c I thought he'd benefit from more varied resources than i felt I could provide (single mother on low income) and because, also as a single mother, I felt i needed a break - he is very high needs and intense and I have no family around to support me, although he does see his dad regularly. Anyway, I've noticed a negative impact on his behaviour since starting preschool, which includes an inability to play alone anymore - which he was quite happy to do regularly before, but he now insists I play with him at all times and every single time I need to do a chore or take care of my own basic needs he is very upset, signs of exhaustion manifesting in increased frequency and severity of tantrums, and much, much rude talking and shouting to me, hitting/kicking on a daily basis (which he rarely if ever did before), etc. I think this is a combination of his frustration at having to follow others' timetables and priorities at preschool at a young age, and his separation from me (he's always been very attached and although has never been upset when dropped off at preschool, I think it comes out in more subtle ways).  As the school application deadlines approach rapidly and I've been going to some school open days - and not liking what I see - as well as talking to home ed-ing and unschooling parents I know, I am strongly leaning in the direction of not sending him to school next Sept.

 

I have been tentatively feeling out the topic with him of him not going to 'big school' and learning at home with me, and other grown-ups and other children (we live in an area where there are tons of home ed groups), but he says he wants to go to big school. He knows that's what all the children he knows do or are going to do, and he's already 'in the system'. Although he often doesn't want to go to preschool on a given day, when I've told him he doesn't have to go (in general) if he doesn't want to, he insists he does. I don't know. Anyone else had this situation? Any thoughts? Thank you! Another issue is his dad, (who he sees weekly) in all previous discussions about it (we've not had one for a long time b/c it became so emotive, and he now thinks I am just going to send DS to school), has been TOTALLY and completely against home schooling, believing it to be an act of parental neglect and deprivation. So I have very considerable opposition to face if I take this route...and I don't know if I can actually go ahead and do it if he doesn't want me to. 

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#2 of 14 Old 12-03-2011, 01:43 PM
 
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I came across this through the New Posts link, and I'm not a unschooling mom.  But my I think my answer applies to a lot situations.

 

You're the adult, he's four years old.  You're the one who has done extensive research.  If unschooling him is how you can best meet his needs, then that is what you should do.   Definitely his opinion should be a part of your decision making progress. But at this age he only knows about what he's already familiar with.  Of course he wants to go to school, with his friends, and have the same experiences they're having. Social milestones are really important to people.

 

Perhaps you can talk up the positive aspects of unschooling to him.  As well as to his dad. 

 

Hopefully some experienced unschoolers will chime in here!  =)

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#3 of 14 Old 12-03-2011, 02:02 PM
 
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I agree with the PP that I wouldn't let a 4 y.o. make this decision.  I think it would be ideal to try to find a way to get his father on board, though, since he is a big part of your son's life.  Do you think he would consider a trial year, of homeschooling kindergarten?  FWIW, I would not use the word "unschooling", especially because he's uncomfortable with homeschooling at all.

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#4 of 14 Old 12-03-2011, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks.  agree, it makes sense not to let DS have  the power of decision on this, but I can't help feeling that he will feel deprived of something  he wants and values - a social milestone, part of growing up as he sees it - and might hold that against me later...feel a social misfit or something.  Some people tell me (including those who are home-eding themselves) that some kids are just 'school-ers' and that your child will tell you through their behaviour and speech which they are. I don't personally think it is that clear cut, so its confusing. I find it hard to see from my son's interests what environment will suit him best - he doesn't particularly lean in any artistic, musical, logical/mathematical or linguistic direction but is a bit of an all-rounder so far  - but I so much don't want him to lose his natural curiosity and love of learning as I believe school will probably precipitate. 

 

Yep, would definitely use the term 'home education' to his dad rather than unschooling ;) He thinks I'm a hippy idealist freak as it is ;)  I honestly can't imagine that he'll ever get on board with it, he's an extremely rigid and close minded person and since we're no longer together has even less motivation to be open to my ideas... I have been collecting tons of links and book refs etc but just as with the vaccination debate we had, he never read anything, I doubt he'll read anything this time, just insist on his power of veto. I'm not sure whether to approach it as 'So, I'm thinking of home educating' or 'This is what I've decided.' Obviously the latter would get his back up as he is the other parent, but honestly, I am the one who is with DS day in day out and he has never been an involved or particularly interactive parent. Not that that takes away his right to have input on the decision, but I've always felt (again, as with the vaccination issue) that the person who has taken the time and thought to thoroughly research the issue has more information to make a better choice with. I like the suggestion of just trialing home ed for the first year - I know he does think that schooling starts too early here, unlike in Europe where it's usually at age 7, so I could just say let's try that for a year and then see where we are. Maybe just say, he is still so young and children need to be children for longer, and talk about the things I am going to do to support his learning needs. 


 

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#5 of 14 Old 12-03-2011, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone got any idea of the positive aspects of unschooling I could mention to DS? So far have mentioned that he would be able to choose what he does each day and could spend more time with me, go swimming more (which he loves), and play more. But as the preschool is largely play based with very  minimal 'carpet time' and no formal learning yet, he thinks what he does there is just play all day anyway - and with a greater range of toys and materials than he has at home, and more playmates. so he can only imagine 'big school' as a continuation of that, although I've tried to explain that it is not like that, that there is much less time for playing and that he will have to sit still and listen to a teacher a lot. Like you say, journeymom, he only knows what he has experienced and can't imagine anything else right now. I think I will try to go along to some homeschooling groups and for him to meet other home-ed'ed/unschooled kids so he has more of a sense of what I'm talking about. At the moment he doesn't personally have any friends who are not in the system. 

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#6 of 14 Old 12-04-2011, 08:31 AM
 
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For now-- for *now*-- stop talking with him about it.  Build up what you think will be fun for him.  My girls have a membership to the Children's Museum.  We have an open invitation to 140 acres of farm and forest, creek and pond to play in.  We visit the library.  Once a month we go to a tracking class for families (for *homeschooling* families!)  When the art table is clean they can do watercolors (as many as they wish).  They have free access to binoculars and magnifying glasses, and the camera too.  I let them turn on the stove or oven when they cook with me, and flip pancakes.  They get to use hammers.  They have free access to their scissors and colored paper and we regularly buy more from the "homeschool store".  Soon they will share a riding lesson every other week (in the middle of the day!)

 

Unschooling is not just about letting kids get on with their day.  It's about parents and other trusted adults actively opening their lives to their child as much as they feel comfortable.  Give them real tools.  Let them take apart the bike.  Let them use the power drill with you or his dad.  Extend a little more trust if your protective instincts are on high alert.  A child must honor and trust his own instincts if he is to confidently move about his day.  And at that young age, if the parent shows the child can't be trusted, then that is his view of himself, or he rebels against it vehemently.  This is the reason you hear about some unschooling families letting their kids play videos all day, eat what and when they want and set their own bedtimes.  It's about trusting your kids, and each family chooses where the line is drawn (hopefully in the sand, not in concrete.)

 

Build up this attitude and the activities that extend from it.  Don't talk about school unless he brings it up.  At 4, he is likely to forget about this-- *if* you let him.  Then, one day, maybe he will ask to go to school again and you can really talk about it.  If he does, you can point out all the changes that could happen and whether he would be OK with it.  

 

And what you will talk about the specific things he *is doing* that will be curtailed or missed entirely, not some idea of an activity he could possibly do down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#7 of 14 Old 12-04-2011, 08:34 AM
 
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This may sound a little like indoctrination, but I've always figured there is a lot within our culture than conspires to manipulate children into getting excited about school, so it's only fair to engage in some counter-indoctrination.

 

Any time my young children and I were doin something particularly fun during school hours, I might comment "Good thing you don't go to school! If you went to school you'd be sitting inside right now." I'd mention this while playing at the park, while eating ice cream, while swimming at the pool, while having a picnic on the beach, while visiting the children's museum, while giggling playing with Duplo at grandma's house. 

 

When we did something that demanded flexibility of schedule, I'd make similar comments. "Wow, it's nine o'clock already! It's lucky you don't have school -- you'd have had to stop playing with daddy ages ago and gone to bed." Or "Isn't it lucky you don't go to school? When you're in school you can't go away on vacations in the fall. No water park, no plane ride.... that would be sad."

 

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#8 of 14 Old 12-04-2011, 08:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Don't talk about school unless he brings it up.  At 4, he is likely to forget about this-- *if* you let him.  


Except that he's in preschool, and may be experiencing a lot of "rah! rah!" building up of kindergarten, lots of talk about "when you're big and you go to big kids' school," about getting ready for alll the fun and challenge and excitement of kindergarten.

 

Miranda

 

 


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#9 of 14 Old 12-04-2011, 12:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 


Except that he's in preschool, and may be experiencing a lot of "rah! rah!" building up of kindergarten, lots of talk about "when you're big and you go to big kids' school," about getting ready for alll the fun and challenge and excitement of kindergarten.

 

Miranda

 

 


Yeah, I kinda did a zombie read-through, skimming past the fact that he's still in preschool.  I was answering as if he had already been pulled out.  

 

If Winter Break is coming up, that would be a good time to make a transition as he has no idea how long this break is.  (Not that I'd lie about it.... hm.... what would you say if he asked when he's going back?  Could you reduce the number of days slowly?  Is he going to be kindy age in the fall?  What age is he required to attend school or be registered?  That's not until 8yo in our state.)  You'd need to have some activities ready for him, and be prepared to be very hands-on at first, while he's de-schooling.  I still stand by my belief that you can't *just* talk up homeschooling for a kid like this, you have to make it something to look forward to with more than just words.  We are also big homeschooling cheerleaders, pointing out who else homeschools, enjoying some lazy mornings ("because we homeschool, isn't it wonderful?"), get fully into science experiments after dinner because we can, and all the other benefits.  Part of this is to counteract all the school-propaganda that gets poured on kids in books, in society in general, and in preschool for those who go.  

 

I can't even think of how to sell this to his dad, but I know my husband is on board in part because he understands that homeschooling can be really hands on instead of limited to academics.  This is something that schools try to do-- they try to make to learning real and meaningful, but the cannot immerse children in this kind of learning, not with the philosophy they currently operate on.  (I'm thinking about younger kids.  It seems that more of these opportunities are available for high school kids.)

 


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#10 of 14 Old 12-04-2011, 12:41 PM
 
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Now that I'm not so hungry (aaaahhh!) I noticed my circular reasoning about the trust issue.  You could say that you should trust in your child's choice to attend school or not.  You could.  But, even though I label us unschoolers, we have a set bedtime in our house (not just because, but because we've tried being more free with it and hasn't worked out yet) nor TV nor food, at least not entirely.  

 

Personally, I would not trust my young kids to make this decision either, especially if I felt that some behavioral issues were caused by going to school (if everyone's life was improved by choosing school I might be less adamant about not going.)  But if it ends up becoming a struggle, how much fight would I have in me before I decided the fight was more detrimental than the school causing the trouble?


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#11 of 14 Old 12-04-2011, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for the suggestions. I am also considering doing flexi-schooling partly b/c I think his dad will be more open to that, and partly so he can experience a bit of school and see.. but I'm aware that very few schools in our area do that, if any, and besides we are investigating the possiblility of moving to another county (4 hours train ride away) in the next few months so this is all speculation. I know that that new area has more easy access to the kind of nature settings that a PP has described, and has a thriving home ed community. 

 

And yes, he is of legal age to start kindergarten next fall - in this country they start if they turned 4 the term before fall, so as he's October born he just missed starting this year. I think the legal age upper limit here is 7 - but if you have never put your child in school, you don't have to answer to anyone about it or prove how you're educating them - that could change though, there has been talk of it. 

 

Anyway, I have applied already to his preschool to change and reduce his hours from two six hour days and one 3 hour day, (in a row) to three mornings (3 hours), a gap of one day, and then one more morning of 3 hours, so I think that will lessen the intensity of the exposure, (although theres no guarantee they'll grant my request!) but it's an interesting sugestion to pull him out entirely.. I am open to that but it still feels really scary for some reason...guess we are indoctrinated too to believe preschool and school are essential to our children having enough stimulation... Anyway gotta go, battery on laptop running out! lots to think about here, really helpful, thanks. 

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#12 of 14 Old 12-05-2011, 01:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

For now-- for *now*-- stop talking with him about it.  Build up what you think will be fun for him.  My girls have a membership to the Children's Museum.  We have an open invitation to 140 acres of farm and forest, creek and pond to play in.  We visit the library.  Once a month we go to a tracking class for families (for *homeschooling* families!)  When the art table is clean they can do watercolors (as many as they wish).  They have free access to binoculars and magnifying glasses, and the camera too.  I let them turn on the stove or oven when they cook with me, and flip pancakes.  They get to use hammers.  They have free access to their scissors and colored paper and we regularly buy more from the "homeschool store".  Soon they will share a riding lesson every other week (in the middle of the day!)

 

Unschooling is not just about letting kids get on with their day.  It's about parents and other trusted adults actively opening their lives to their child as much as they feel comfortable.  Give them real tools.  Let them take apart the bike.  Let them use the power drill with you or his dad.  Extend a little more trust if your protective instincts are on high alert.  A child must honor and trust his own instincts if he is to confidently move about his day.  And at that young age, if the parent shows the child can't be trusted, then that is his view of himself, or he rebels against it vehemently.  This is the reason you hear about some unschooling families letting their kids play videos all day, eat what and when they want and set their own bedtimes.  It's about trusting your kids, and each family chooses where the line is drawn (hopefully in the sand, not in concrete.)

 

Build up this attitude and the activities that extend from it.  Don't talk about school unless he brings it up.  At 4, he is likely to forget about this-- *if* you let him.  Then, one day, maybe he will ask to go to school again and you can really talk about it.  If he does, you can point out all the changes that could happen and whether he would be OK with it.  

 

And what you will talk about the specific things he *is doing* that will be curtailed or missed entirely, not some idea of an activity he could possibly do down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yes, yes, yes!! This exactly how we handled it with my first DS who begged to go to school at age 4. Media and neighbors played up school so much to him that it looked like a giant party.i knew since he was an infant though that we would homeschool our dc.

 

Ds really wanted to ride the school bus so we took a trip on a city bus. We signed up for fun classes and called them "cooking school, swim school, sports school, art school". We went to the library all the time and out to lunch. We played on the beach when no one else was there on a beautiful sunny day. We went to the zoo and aquarium all the time.mwe found a great hs group and went regularly to meetups.

 

He no longer asks to go to school. He's 8 and has never been. He knows that going would mean giving up his wonderful freedom!

 

 

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#13 of 14 Old 12-05-2011, 06:48 PM
 
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Just a couple of thoughts with regards to dealing with the ex, having BTDT.

 

We had planned to homeschool DS, but separated when he was almost 4yo.  Then it came out that 'dear' hubby was only going along with the idea because he'd be there to keep an eye on things... he didn't trust me to do it properly unless he was monitoring!  (This, despite the fact that I am a trained and experienced pedagogue... not that that even matters for homeschooling, but for 'doubters' it certainly is a check in the 'ok she's qualified then' column.)

 

So in our initial separation negotiations, he was trying to stipulate that DS would not only go to school, but go to school in *his* jurisdiction.  Even though he'd be spending most of the weekdays (most school drop off and pick up times) with me.  

 

We ended up with a good compromise.  First of all, he did agree that school didn't need to start at age 4 (the province where we live has 'junior kindergarten', which is completely optional, but 99.9% of parents say "well why the heck WOULDN'T you start as early as possible???").  Not because of any research he'd done into the negative effects of early academics or the value of the parental attachments in the early years. It was only because of "I started school when I was 6 and that was good enough for me, so it's good enough for my son."  So, if your ex is of a similar, um, logical persuasion, then you can certainly use the European older start to your advantage.  As a first step, you can probably get him to agree to not starting school before he's 6 or 7 and then re-evaluating at that time.

 

The second compromise we made was to undergo third party standardized testing starting at the end of "grade 1".  If you agree to a delayed start a la European start, you could probably start this at 'grade 2' or even later.  While I certainly agree with all the problems with standardized testing, it is, at least, a way to reassure doubtful exes that your child is not being horribly neglected.  I did talk to him first about how part of the benefit of homeschooling would be that if by chance our son was "behind" the average in a true *developmental* sense, then we could work at his natural level and his own pace without the pressures of keeping up; but then he would appear 'behind' on the tests and I didn't want judgment to be based on that -- because he'd be performing poorly in school anyway.  He understood and agreed with that; he just wanted to ensure that there was *progress* from year to year.  And honestly, "progress" will happen pretty much automatically.  In fact, one year we did no formal math at all (his "grade 3" year), and his math test scores jumped from just below grade level the previous year, to nearly 3 grades ABOVE current grade level the end of the "no-math" year!  (We just went through a little grade 3 'homework helper' workbook in a couple of weeks at the end of the year so that he'd understand the structures of the questions)

 

Anyway, with those compromises I got him to agree to 'allow' homeschooling for now, and then re-evaluating at grade 4.  That's because that was the other entry point for french immersion in our school system.  

 

Well, grade 4 came and went without a peep from dad.  Sonny bubbles is now in 'grade 8' and still not a peep from dad!  :)  I've always said that he could go to high school if that was his (my son's) choice.  That's next year!!!  And his choice so far is "thanks, but no thanks".

 

Another fact that can be VERY helpful with an ex is this:  When homeschooling, your son's time is MUCH more flexible.  Therefore, working out back and forth visitations is MUCH easier, and can work to HIS (your ex's) advantage!  Say your ex gets a week off in the middle of April and wants to take your son on a trip.  If he were in school, that would be a huge hassle... missing tests, making up homework, falling behind, etc etc.  Homeschooling?  No sweat.  It's a vacation week, have fun.  Or if your ex works flex hours and gets every Friday off, so he wants your son Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday.  No problem!  No 'school' on Friday, then.  Or this week he wants to take him fishing on Wednesday because he has a day off.  WHATEVER.  It's all fine.  In our case, there was a period of a couple of years where we were living in different cities.  Our son would stay with his dad for a month or so at a time a couple of times a year.  NO HASSLES about the school situation.  We'd either call it a 'vacation' or I'd send a few good independent materials along with him to poke around with while at his dad's. 

 

Ease in spending more time with his child can be a VERY powerful (not to mention practical) motivator for a divorced father.  


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#14 of 14 Old 12-07-2011, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the suggestions Briansmama and Tankgirl... 

I am going to work on building up a picture for DS through our everyday activities, of what life is like without school, can think of tons of fun and educational things to do. At the moment he is already spending 2 hours plus reading books with me per day, lots of which are information books (he's chosen) as well as story books, and he absolutely loves books, so that's something that can continue, plus there are nice kids art clubs and free or cheap home ed groups to check out, yoga, music, loads of stuff. We are limited in budget though as I'm a single mom and working only a couple hours a week right now, so if anyone has suggestions for cheap/free stuff to do, that would be great. Just looking at some books at the library today gave me ideas, though - there are so many resources on craft-y things to do with your child at home.

 

I have noticed how much better and proactive my attitude is with DS now that I'm going down this road - I think I'd sort of abdicated responsibliity for his learning in a way once he started preschool and I wasn't that alert to learning opportunities, rarely did arts/craft with him etc - in the past few days we've done tons more stuff than we usually do - and none of it forced on him by me of course, I've just reminded him certain things are available to do and he was really keen. He has not gone to preschool for a week now due to an industrial strike last week in which it was closed, and then a mild illness the last few days. This morning he seemed well enough to go but when it came down to it he didn't want to and said he just wanted to stay with me. So I said ok. It might be easier to phase it out than i thought - though it may just be because he's not 100 % well and energetic. 

 

The suggestions on how to deal with my Ex are so helpful thank you Tankgirl, I will try that!I think you're right, he'll like the idea of tests to show DS is progressing (and in fact he agrees with me that school testing is premature and harmful), and the flexibility of his access to DS, particularly as we may be moving a fair distance away (as he knows) and so extended time together will be important. 

I also like what a PP said about the way home ed allows adults to open their lives up to children and for the children to participate in them - and see what they do for work etc. I'm really looking forward to stuff like DS being able to come with me to the farm where my boyfriend does carpentry and learning from him there,etc. All those kind of things would be so much harder to fit in regularly with a school timetable. 

 

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